Monday, January 29, 2007

13.1 Wet, Humid, Wonderful Miles

I did it. I am officially a half-marathon finisher! Here is my proof.

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I am quite proud of my time too, considering my long run average was much slower, the weather (more on that in a moment) and the fact that it is sometimes hard to get a good pace in a race with thousands of people. Last week I was hoping for 2:40. Then the day of the race I figured I would be able to do 2:30. So to come in at 2:24:05 is quite an accomplishment. Especially since the whole race I felt like I was holding back. Anyway, here is my event rundown.

Saturday morning Jer and I met up with Kevin, Marissa and Eddie at our house so we could all drive down to South Beach for the expo. The expo was extremely well organized and spacious since they moved it from downtown to a bigger facility on South Beach. We wandered around and got all our loot. They switched the cotton tshirts this year to a dryfit running shirt which is ok but it's pretty heavy. I guess it's good for people who aren't from Miami but I don't think I'll be running in it much down here. They did give out really nice dryfit running caps too which are white and extremely light (good for the blazing sun). The hat totally made up for the shirt.

After the expo we headed home to relax for a bit. We filled up on turkey sandwiches, fruit and tons of water for lunch. We watched Talladega Nights to laugh and unwind. Then we caught a broadcast of the P.F. Changs Rock-N-Roll Marathon they were playing on one of the ESPN's. It was exciting to watch the runners, just regular people with one shared goal, and the crowds cheering them on. I couldn't believe in a few hours it was going to be me.

Later we ran down to the Knight of the Gables where Footworks was throwing the pre-race pasta party. We didn't eat but just stopped by to show support, say hello and wish everyone luck. Then we headed home for our own pasta party. We made whole wheat pasta with homemade garlic toast for dinner. Later, I relaxed in a hot bath for about an hour, which I think from now on will be my pre-race must-do. It made a huge difference. Afterwards, Jer and I drank hot tea and laid out our stuff for the morning.

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I didn't think I would be able to sleep, but I was out by 11pm and slept really well. I was worried a bit about the weather report saying there was going to be thunderstorms in the morning and a high of 79 degrees. The weather had been so nice all day, they could be wrong, right?

The alarm went off at 3:15am. Yes, that's right, 3:15. I felt pretty good and walked outside first thing to check the weather. Hot, thick air hit me like a brick wall as I noticed the puddles on the driveway rippling from the light shower. Maybe this is the worst of it. Maybe this is the "thunderstorm" in which they speak. It will clear up, South Florida rain never lasts long, (I'm sure you can see the ominous foreshadowing here).

So everyone met up at the house and we carpooled to downtown Miami. We found parking and made it to the Foorworks tent by 5:00am. I found Tracy and Lesley who I was running with and said my goodbyes to Jeremy and everyone else. We decided to try and find some Port-O-Potties with a shorter line and for some reason figured that the ones right in front of the corrals would be the ticket. As we stood in our half-hour line, the light sprinkle came back, which quickly turned to one of those crazy South Florida rainstorms that unleashes itself relentlessly for about 20 minutes. Everyone and everything got soaked. I kept telling myself I could deal with the rain as long as my shoes and socks stayed dry and I held up that false hope for about 10 minutes, then it was no use. By the time we lined up in the corrals my feet were squishing with every step and I was wringing out my clothes in a last ditch effort to lose some water weight.

When the announcer counted down to start we barely heard it since the speakers were covered in garbage bags to protect them. Fortunately the excitement helped our spirits and as soon as we crossed the start we felt a million times better. The rain died down to a light sprinkle about five minutes into the run and I barely felt a drop after that until it stopped completely. Of course at that point it was in the 70's with over 75% humidity. Love that tropical weather.

The course was beautiful. We started at the American Airlines Arena downtown and headed over the bridge towards the beach. Ran past the Port of Miami, cruise ships and Star Island. Headed up Ocean Drive on South Beach, back up the other side of the beach through some beautiful neighborhoods, over the Venetian Causeway, back through downtown and ended up at Bayfront Park. It is definitely a beautiful course and I recommend it for anyone who doesn't live here. While the crowd support is lacking a bit, the scenery really makes up for it. As I ran through my city, I wondered how I always forget how beautiful it can be. Here is the course from above:

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Our pace was good. We started out slow, but not too much slower than our Saturday morning runs. My plan was to run slow at the start, keep a good pace, skip the walk breaks after mile 10 and run it in at the end if I could. My plan actually worked great. Running with Tracy and Lesley helped me so much. We talked about random stuff the whole run to keep us busy. We made each other take the walk breaks in the beginning when others didn't want to. We stuck with each other during bathroom breaks and all helped to pace each other perfectly. Their families were there to support them and since most of my friends were already running, their support kept me going as well. So at mile ten we stopped the walk breaks and at mile twelve they told me to take off. I felt so good I wanted to see how well I could run it in without killing myself. I felt like a rockstar, passing everyone that last mile. It really is a testament to how well the walk/run program worked for me that I could take off the last mile and run it in at such a good pace and feel great. Here is a rundown of my splits:

1) 11:49 (start, rain and bridge)
2) 11:12
3) 11:35
4) 10:50
5/6) 23:54 (No mile marker at 5, plus a bathroom break)
7) 11:06
8) 10:49
9) 11:17
10) 11:09
11) 10:43 (no walk breaks)
12) 10:07 (no walk breaks)
13.1) 9:30 (big finish)

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More pictures here...

I really felt the whole time that I could have been running it faster which makes me feel good, but I was scared to take off and get too tired at the end. Plus, since it was my first, I just wanted to enjoy myself, the surroundings and my company. So I have no regrets, other than wishing the race was held today (one day later) instead (Sunny, high of 65 degrees). Oh well. At least at this point I am used to running in the rain and humidity. Although the huge blisters covering the bottom of my little toes from the wet shoes are a new adventure.

The end of the race was great. I relaxed at the Footworks tent, ate, drank beer, told race stories and watched all my friends come in. Due to the weather, everyone finished this years race a bit slower than the year before. Jeremy came in at 4:27, which he is not overly thrilled about. I just keep reminding him that he finished, didn't quit, didn't get injured and that is still a pretty damn good time. Of course he doesn't believe me. I know how hard it must be to work so hard to improve on something, only to have it end up worse. I think he just needs a cooler climate to run in.

The rest of the day was pretty good. We hung out alone with pizza and ice cream. Watched Get Shorty and the Simpsons and went to bed by 9pm. Life doesn't get much better than that folks.

Congratulations to Mark and Ali who got engaged at the start of the race!!!


Anonymous said...

Well done, Laurel!
In my humble opinion as a
middle of the pack runner you can surely improve your
half marathon PB. Keep doing quality work steadily (I mean some repeats and interval training) and in a few months you'll smash the 2 hours wall!

Best of luck from a fellow
Italian runner

P.s.: try trail running. It's wonderful

Anonymous said...

What a great race report! You ran an amazing race and your time amazes me. I will be thinking about you on Sunday when I run my second HM and force myself to take those walk breaks. Congratulations again.

Jason The Running Man said...

I found your blog through Friend of CRN.

Congrats on your great half marathon!

Faithful Soles said...

My name is Robert Key and I am a runner from Houston, Texas. I saw your comment on Jason's blog and thought I would introduce myself (by the way, I'm a native Floridian, born in Jacksonville in 1959).

I have a web site at that is inspirational stories for walkers, runners and athletes of all ages and abilities. A new feature I have recently added to the site is a categorized and searchable Running Blog Database where members of my site can find a blog of interest to them based on other walkers, runners or athletes of similar abilities, goals and interests. To my knowledge it is the only one of its kind specifically for walkers and runners on the internet. I would appreciate it if you would take a moment to put a link to your blog in our Running Blog Database. Just click on "Link your running blog" under "Free Features" from the home page. If you want to learn more about my running background, just click on "Meet Robert" from the main menu , or to learn more about my involvement in the running community, click on "Faithful Soles in the news" in the left column under "Weekly Features". I also have a blog that I just started at, but most of my running information is on my web site. Also, if there is anyone else in your blogger network that you think would be interested in listing their blog, please feel free to pass this information along to them. Thanks and continued good luck in your training.

Faithful Soles said...

I forgot to mention that I just had a great experience with my 14 year old son in January running his first half-marathon here in Houston. He was around 2:29 or so. Congratulations on your first-half!

Jason The Running Man said...

Thanks for the comments, she had daddy wraped thats for sure! With the cold and snow we had here in SC I sure wish I was down in South Beach right now!

Michelle said...


I somehow stumbled across your blog via Jason the Running Man.

Way to go on your first HM!! I am planning on doing my first HM in October (just started jogging again in November 2006) and reading your race report makes me even more excited to tackle it!!

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